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Disasters That Shook India: Gujarat Earthquake 2001

Updated on July 4, 2016

The Cause

While the whole nation prepared to celebrate its 52nd Republic Day, Gujarat was shaken awake to one of the worst disasters in the history of India. On the morning of January 26, 2001 an earthquake of magnitude around 7.9 hit this western state at 8:46 am. Thousands lost their lives and nearly a million were left homeless due to the massive destruction to property. The epicenter of this quake, which lasted for only 2 minutes, was about 7 kilometers from the Chobari village in the Kutch district. According to the US National Library of Medicine, the earthquake also resulted in severe emotional and mental health problems.

This disaster was a result of the Indian plate pushing towards the Eurasian plate in the North. It happened along the previously unknown south dipping fault, near the Rann of Kutch. Initially a smaller event took place, followed by larger quakes within 2 seconds. The last such incident that took place in Gujarat was back in 1819, so people were not well prepared or equipped. The earthquake had a rating of X (for extreme) on the Mercalli Intensity Scale.

The Destruction

According to the National Information Centre of Earthquake Engineering, over 18,000 people were reported dead and another 167,000 were injured by this unfortunate event.

  • 21 out of the 25 districts of the state were destroyed.
  • Kutch suffered the highest damage and alone reported around 17,000 deaths.
  • 7,065 children and 9,110 women were reported dead.
  • Around 348 orphans and 826 widows were registered. While some were protected with life or term insurance, many were left totally financially crippled.
  • Out of 1.67 lakh people who were injured most were left handicapped for the rest of their lives.
  • The economic loss was reported at around Rs.99 billion.
  • Over 12 million houses were damaged, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
  • Around 8,000 villages were affected and more than 3,000 health facilities were destroyed.
  • In Ahemdabad, more than 50 multi-storied buildings collapsed killing hundreds of people.
  • Many historic and religious places like Swaminarayan Temple, Prag Mahal and Aina Mahal suffered major destruction.

The Response

It was believed that Gujarat would take many years to get back to normal. However, the collective efforts of the government and the people helped the state recover very quickly and efficiently. Health, Education and Industrial sectors reached new heights with the help of the Gujarat Model of Development.

  • According to the United Nations, around 150 local and 300 international NGOs and organizations were involved in assistance in the city of Bhuj alone.
  • Immediate relief of Rs.500 crores was announced by the NCCF.
  • NCCF also announced a surcharge of 2% in the following Union Budget (2001-02) on personal and corporate income tax to provide relief to those who were affected.
  • Rs.110 crores were sanctioned from the PM's Relief Fund.
  • A tie-up between the World Bank and ADB raised credit of $800 million.
  • Banks were instructed to freeze recoveries and were ordered to provide liberal loans by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • There was a record contribution of Rs.36 crores towards the Prime Minister's Relief Fund in one day.
  • Many foreign countries like the US, Indonesia and Japan also contributed huge amounts of money.
  • Manpower was sent from all over the world and camps were set up for those who lost their homes.
  • 200 specialist doctors, 785 paramedics and 11,000 employees were appointed by the government.
  • 148 bulldozers and 362 jeeps/ambulances were used in relief work.

Today, Gujarat stands strong but events like these underline the importance of better future planning. Experts at Bharti AXA have made it easier for you. Policies like term insurance and life insurance are the need of the hour to protect the financial future of your family.

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